The price has nearly doubled since the last round of sales.

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Virgin Galactic's Carrier Aircraft VMS Eve and VSS Unity Take to the Skies
Virgin Galactic's Carrier Aircraft VMS Eve and VSS Unity Take to the Skies
| Credit: Courtesy of Virgin Galactic

As the saying goes, space is hard — hard on the wallet, that is. Following Virgin Galactic's successful test flight on VSS Unity last month, which saw the company's founder, Richard Branson, finally achieve his dream of traveling to space, the private spaceflight business has reopened ticket sales for its suborbital flights.

Between 2013 and 2018, when Virgin Galactic tickets were last on sale, 600 prospective passengers bought seats on the spaceplane. Turns out, the early bird got the worm — those pioneering purchasers bought their tickets for $200,000 to $250,000 apiece. Today, Virgin Galactic's starting price is $450,000 per seat, though it will also sell "couples/friends/family" packages, as well as full-flight buyouts.

Virgin Galactic Makes Space for Second Time in Ten Weeks with Three on Board
Credit: Courtesy of Virgin Galactic

Why the increase? Well, like any startup, Virgin Galactic is burning through cash and currently sits in the red, so higher ticket prices mean more revenue. "We believe this experience is so unique and compelling that it will drive multiple repeat experiences with friends and family across multiple spaceports around the world," Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in the company's Q2 earnings call yesterday.

Compared to a trip to the International Space Station (ISS), for which some space tourists have paid $55 million, Virgin Galactic's $450,000 price tag seems like a steal. That said, a multiday orbital flight with a stay on the ISS is quite a bit more intense than a two-hour suborbital flight with Virgin Galactic.

In the earnings call, Colglazier also announced that commercial operations (that is, flights with customers on board) will likely commence toward the end of next year, late in Q3. This is a slip in the previously announced timeline, which anticipated space tourists to fly early next year.

Between now and then, there will be at least two more test flights, the first of which is scheduled for September and will carry researchers from the Italian Air Force. A second test flight is planned for mid-2022 to test new upgrades to VSS Unity.

So, if you're looking to buy tickets now, go ahead and make your move — but you'll still have to wait quite some time before your flight departs.

Stefanie Waldek is a freelance space, travel, and design journalist. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @stefaniewaldek.